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BellaOnline's Dogs Editor

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The Right Dog for You - Are You Ready for a Dog?

Guest Author - Sandy Moyer

Anyone who is thinking about getting a dog, should put a lot of thought into that decision. Animal shelters are full of unwanted pets that people thought they wanted.

Getting a dog should never be a spur of the moment decision. Are you ready to accept the responsibilities of dog ownership? Are you ready to commit the next 12 to 15 years or more to caring for your canine companion? Will you be able to provide a loving home, food, and health care for it's lifetime

You'll have to make some changes around your house and in your lifestyle. If this will be your first dog, do you really know what you're in for?

Dogs definitely do not clean up after themselves. If you're uncomfortable in a less than immaculate house... If you like a house that's always neat and tidy, you'll have to change your attitude or you will not be happy living with a dog. While poodles and some wire-haired terrier types shed considerably less than many other dogs, there is no such thing as a totally non-shedding dog (unless you get a hairless breed.) Even with Poodles and low-shedding Terriers, there's scattered fuzzies and clumps of hair to deal with. Dogs with low maintenance, very short, neutral colored hair, like my Weimaraners, do still shed. It's not as obvious as Collie hair, but there is dog hair to clean-up. With Labs, Goldens, Spaniels, and many other popular breeds, be ready for lots of brushing and vacuuming!

Although you can minimize the amount of shedding by the breed you select, frequent grooming, and proper diet, you'll have extra cleaning to do with any kind of dog. Living with a dog involves messy things that have nothing to do with dog hair. There's drips around water and food bowls and wet muddy paws on rainy days. Dogs, especially puppies, chew things and they don't pick up the pieces. Dogs sometimes empty trash cans and carry undesirable things they find in your trash to places where you don't want to find them. You'll sometimes have to deal with unpleasant doggy smells. When you live with any dog, you'll have to get used to some degree of messiness and living in a house that doesn't stay perfectly clean very long.

Are you or anyone in your family allergic to dog hair? While Poodles and a few other breeds are sometimes less of a problem for people with allergies, no breed is completely non-allergenic. Someone with serious allergies may not be able to tolerate any dog.

Puppy owners must learn to deal with destructive behavior. Teething puppies have a need to chew and that $100 pair of shoes sitting by the bed chews just as easily as the $5 chew toy that's lost under the bed.

How much time do you spend at home? Do you frequently work late? Dogs need to be let outside, exercised, walked. Dogs thrive on attention and they like regular schedules. No more coming home from work and crashing on the sofa.... especially if you're considering a puppy. A puppy needs to be fed at least 3 times a day and taken out frequently until it's house-trained. That could take weeks, months, maybe many months. Animal shelters are full of dogs who are unwanted because no one had time to train them.

Do you live in a house or an apartment? Do you have a big enough yard for a dog's exercise needs? Do you have a fenced yard, a fenced run or secure area for your dog to go outside without a leash?

Do you own or rent? If you rent, are dogs allowed? Are there any size or breed restrictions? Even if you live in a "dogs allowed" apartment with no restrictions, occupants in the apartment below might complain about the romping around or other neighbors might be disturbed by barking. How would you handle that?

Many dogs, large and small, purebred or mixed breed, can live happily in an apartment or a condo as long as their exercise needs are met by regular walks. Do you have the time and energy to walk a dog?

Will there be major changes in your life - like marriage, a new baby, divorce, relocating? Are you willing to do what it takes to keep your dog in your life and by your side? When dogs are with someone they love, they can adapt to changes like these. Will you help your dog adjust to someone new in the family, to separation from someone he loves and will you only consider dog-friendly housing, no matter how hard it is to find? Animal shelters are full of dogs who are there because someone got married, had a new baby, got divorced or moved to a no-pets-allowed apartment.

Do you want a dog for yourself or for your family? If it's your children who really want a dog, are you still prepared to be the dog's caretaker? No matter what rules you and your children agree to before hand or how many promises they make about dog care, an adult must still be in charge. Kids will spend a great deal of time with a new dog, but the infatuation wears off. Placing a puppy in the hands of a child and expecting that child to feed, groom, housebreak, and discipline is unrealistic. Expecting a child to feed the dog or brush the dog as part of his or her chores is fine, as long as you make sure those chores are always done. Are you willing to take full responsibility for the routine care of the family dog? That also includes things like veterinary appointments, grooming appointments, and training classes. After the initial attraction of a new pet wears off, busy families sometimes have no time for the dog. Animal shelters are full of dogs who belonged to busy families. Many are purebred dogs, bought on impulse, and unwanted when the novelty wore off.

Even if a very responsible older child always feeds and brushes, who will care for the dog on days when pet care doesn't fit in a growing child's ever-changing schedule? When a 10 year old gets a puppy, that dog will be 8 years old when the child leaves for college. Who will take care of the dog when the child graduates and moves away? Kids going away to college is one of the reasons older dogs become homeless dogs.

Are you financially ready for a dog? There's definitely no such thing as a "free" dog. Even if you get a puppy from the family on the corner who's perfect little Lady had an unfortunate encounter with the Tramp next door, expenses for vaccinations plus spaying or neutering will be more than you'll spend for a dog at your local animal shelter. Most animal shelters charge about $75 to $100 for a healthy dog - shots plus surgery included. If, against all odds, you found a wonderful, healthy pup for $0, if you adopt a dog from a shelter, or if you pay $1800 for the Bulldog of your dreams, except for the initial price tag, the cost of raising either dog will be about the same. Whether you adopt a dog from a rescue or buy the breed you love from a breeder, whether it's pet quality or show quality, the initial cost is small compared to the lifetime expenses involved in caring for a dog. By the time a puppy is one year old, you'll spend hundreds of dollars on vet bills for inoculations, spaying or neutering, heartworm and flea prevention plus pet supplies like a crate, a leash, some outgrown collars, puppy chews and interesting toys.

There's also food, of course. You'll naturally spend less feeding a toy breed than a giant breed. Don't cut corners with bargain brands for dogs of any size. The vitality and health benefits from feeding a premium dog food is well worth the premium price.

Unless you have a great deal of time, some experience, plus an abundance of patience, you'll have training expenses. Professional training is a must for some breeds, especially large breeds, and that includes dogs of mixed ancestry from those breeds.

Many breeds need regular trimming and that means grooming expenses. Most dogs of mixed ancestry from breeds with continuously growing, easily matted coats will need about the same amount of grooming and trimming as the purebred.

Preventative health care... annual exams and inoculations... is a lifetime expense that you can count on. Could you handle the added expense of surgery, accidental injury, or even the expense to diagnose, let alone treat, a dreaded major illness?

Do you like to travel? What kind of traveling do you do? If your travel style doesn't include finding dog friendly accommodations, you'll also have expenses for boarding kennels or pet sitters.

If you already have a dog and you're considering getting another one, are you ready for the time and effort it might take to keep both of them safe until you're sure they'll get along? If either dog is exceptionally aggressive, that may never happen. A second dog can be a source of great pleasure for you and your present dog. A puppy might even spark new life into an older dog, but many dogs in shelters and rescue are there because they were not compatible with their owner's other pets.

Never leave two dogs alone together until you introduce them properly, you've watched them frequently, there's no sign of aggression, and you're absolutely sure that they get along well. Most dogs will accept a puppy easier than another adult dog. Dogs are usually less aggressive to a dog of the opposite sex or if they are spayed or neutered.

If you already have a cat and you want to get a dog, the introduction might take a long time if you get an adult dog who has never socialized with cats. A puppy is a better choice since it will be less threatening to the cat. In either case, cautious supervision is necessary until you're sure they have accepted each other. Dogs and cats can usually live together peacefully, but for breeds with a high prey drive, you may always need to keep dog and cat separated when you're not there to supervise.

If, after reading this, you're sure that you want a dog for all the right reasons and you know that you're able to give a dog the time, attention and loving care it needs, you can look forward to years of unconditional love and companionship. Dogs are a lot of responsibility, but they're definitely worth it!!!


If you're ready to open your home and your heart to a new canine family member, it's time to carefully choose a dog with the characteristics that fit your lifestyle. Do you want a puppy or an adult dog? Purebred or a mixed breed? Long-hair or short-hair? Big dog or a small dog? If you're an active, on-the-go type you'll want an active, agile dog. If you're a contented couch potato or you have health issues that limit how active and athletic you can be, you don't want a high energy, athletic dog. If you love big shaggy dogs, do you have extra time for daily grooming? If you love chihuahuas, how will a tiny, toy breed adjust to life with your three active kids under age 8?
Coming next - "The Right Dog For You, Part Two - Choosing a Dog"-

You know that you really want a pure bred puppy and you know that you should never buy a puppy from a pet shop, so where do you buy your puppy? You should only buy a puppy from the breeder.
Coming soon - "Choosing a Good Breeder"


Related Reading -

I Love My Dog Contract

Are You Ready to Own a Dog?

Am I Ready Emotionally? Don't buy on impulse!

The Decision to Get a Dog

The Ten Commandments For a Responsible Pet Owner

Helping Dogs, Cats And Babies To Get Along

The Art of Raising a Puppy -
Forge a healthy dog-to-owner bond and prevent problems before they occur... the authors soundly emphasize that a puppy begins its training the day it arrives home. They teach readers how to choose an appropriate breed and a promising puppy, and how to assume the position of "pack" leader from the start. They place equal stress on the time-consuming responsibilities of dog ownership and on its ultimate rewards.

Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems -
Cesarís formula for a contented and balanced dog stresses exercise, discipline, and affection, in that order. Whether youíre having issues with your dog or just want to make a good bond even stronger, this book will give you a deeper appreciation of how your dog sees the world, and it will help make your relationship with your beloved pet a richer and more rewarding one.

Your Purebred Puppy, Second Edition: A Buyer's Guide -
Discover how to select the right breed of dog, how to locate and choose a good breeder, and choose the best puppy. This book honestly evaluates over 200 breeds - rare breeds and new breeds included. It outlines whether or not a breed is good with children, for novice owners, how big it gets, energy level and exercise requirements, grooming requirements, amount of shedding, ease of training, sociability with strangers, genetic & hereditary medical cautions, the average price of various breeds in the USA and more.


New Puppy Essentials...

KONG Puppy Goodie BonesKong Puppy Goodie Bones

These durable, solid rubber toys hold treats and bounce unpredictably to make your puppy work for his reward. They bridge the gap between treats, play and exercise and keep puppies busy while they remove morsels from the "Goodie Grippers". They're designed for small to medium size puppies 2 to 9 months old.

Life Stages Folding Cage w/divider
This fold-down, wire dog crate includes a free divider panel for easy crate training, all at an economical price. The design permits easy size adjustment of the crate to suit your dog's size as she grows from a puppy to an adult. Heavy-duty gauge wire construction features tight mesh spacing and dual slide-bolt latches safely contain your dog. Simple flip-up and snap-together design easily folds flat for travel or storage. It has a durable, black electro-coat finish with rounded corners for added safety. It includes two plastic carrying handles and a wipe-clean plastic base with rubber feet to protect floor finishes. It's available in a variety of sizes.



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Content copyright © 2013 by Sandy Moyer. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sandy Moyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Bettina Thomas-Smith for details.

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